February 21, 2024

Gender-affirming surgery sees ‘dramatic’ rise in US

Accurate statistics on transgender surgery are essential, especially when a number of American states have passed or will pass bans for minors. A study of 48,000 procedures in JAMA Network Open shows that the number increased “dramatically” between 2016 and 2019.

“Consistent with prior studies,” says the article, “we identified a remarkable increase in the number of GAS [gender-affirmative surgery] procedures performed over time. A prior study examining national estimates of inpatient GAS procedures noted that the absolute number of procedures performed nearly doubled between 2000 to 2005 and from 2006 to 2011. In our analysis, the number of GAS procedures nearly tripled from 2016 to 2020.”

The most common were breast and chest procedures, which occurred in 27,187 patients (56.6%), then genital reconstruction (16 872, 35.1%) and other facial and cosmetic procedures (6,669, 13.9%). For teenagers, the most popular procedure was breast or chest procedures (3,215 patients, 87.4%).

Only 7.7% of the patients were minors, aged between 12 and 18. (An 18-year-old is not a minor, but the JAMA article includes 18-year-olds in the youngest age bracket.)

There was also an intriguing bias toward the East and West coasts, mirroring, perhaps, political divisions in the US. Of the total GAS procedures, 45.9% were from the West and 25.8% from the Northeast.

What is JAMA’s take-away from these stats? More gender-affirming doctors are needed: “The rapid rise in the performance of GAS suggests that there will be a greater need for clinicians knowledgeable in the care of transgender individuals and with the requisite expertise to perform GAS procedures.”

Writing in the National Review, bioethics columnist Wesley J. Smith was scathing:

Bottom line: Children are being surgically transitioned in appalling numbers, including at least some genital mutilations that often require life-long continuing medical support — when studies show that gender confusion in children and teenagers is often “transitory,” as the “de-transition” phenomenon is growing.